Theme Review Incentive: January 2014 Winners (and Program Updates)

Congratulations to @rohitink, @ZGani, and @alex27; you three have completed the most new Theme approvals for January! (This marks the third time in a row that these three have won the incentive.)

Please post your Featured Theme selections in the comments, with a link to the Theme’s WPORG Theme Directory listing. The Themes that will be cycled out are: RidizainSugar and Spice, and Sixteen.

A total of 78 new Themes were  approved by 17 reviewers during the review period.

While we have not had a formal incentive program for Theme Updates (Priority #1 Themes), we have decided once again to recognize @tskk, who completed 143 Theme update approvals during the review period. (This marks the third time in a row that he has also won the incentive.) @tskk, please also post a Featured Theme selection in the comments, with a link to the Theme’s WPORG Theme Directory listing. The Theme that will be cycled out is: Alexandria.

Program Changes

As mentioned previously, we’re going to be making some changes to the Review Incentive program – changes that are designed both to increase the number of monthly winners, and also to increase the accountability of reviews. We want to be able to reward more reviewers, which a “top three” program limits. And unfortunately, whether due to the increased number of new reviewers, or less-than-thorough reviews resulting in approval, the Admins have had to spend more time than we should on auditing and reopening tickets that need further review. (Part of that, of course, is reviewer training/education. We’re committed to improving that as well – but right now, all my time is spent on approved-Theme audits, leaving no time to work on improving training/education.)

So, the program changes will hopefully address both needs.

More Winners

The first change we’re announcing is that we’re no longer using a “top three”method of choosing winners. Instead, each month, any reviewer who meets the minimum number of new-Theme approvals will get to choose a Featured Theme. That minimum number will vary from month to month, and will be the greater of a fixed minimum (5 Theme approvals) and a maximum of 1/10 of the total number of new Themes approved for the month. (That means that each month can have up to 10 winners.)

So for instance, this month, 78 new Themes were approved and made Live. So, the minimum would be 1/10 of that number, or 8 (7.8). So, any reviewer who had at least 8 new Theme approvals would be eligible to select a Featured Theme for the month. (An additional 2 reviewers would have been eligible.)

We are also formalizing the Theme Update reviews accordingly. For Theme Updates, the minimum number will be 1/4 of all Theme Updates approved and made live. So for instance, this month 306 Theme Updates were approved. So, any reviewer who had at least 76 Theme Updates approved would be eligible to select a Featured Theme for the month.

We have a total of 10 Featured Theme slots to reward, and each reviewer may choose only one Featured Theme (even if eligible via both New Themes and Theme Updates). So in the off chance that we have the maximum number of winners – 14 – with no duplication, the Admins will determine which 10 will win. (I don’t anticipate this ever happening.)

More Accountability

But along with drastically increasing the number of monthly winners, we are making changes to the Theme approval process.

The approved-Theme audits that Admins perform have too often become secondary reviews – to the point that we simply can’t get through the queue fast enough. Generally, I have been reopening 8 or 9 out of every 10 tickets closed as “approved” – and many times, for significant and/or fairly obvious issues. Please: ask questions in-ticket (cc: an admin if you need to) or on the mail-list during your review. Ask for help if you need it (e.g. for overly complex Theme options libraries). We are a team, and are here to help one another. But once it’s closed as “approved”, that means that the reviewer believes the Theme meets all Theme Review Guidelines.

So, starting this month, any ticket that has to be reopened after being closed as “approved” will not count toward the incentive program.

Hopefully, this change will free up some of the Admins’ time, and will enable us to focus more time on training, education, and finding ways to continue to make Theme review easier, especially for new reviewers.


Just as a reminder: the Review Incentive program has always been intended to be a fun way to encourage reviews and to reward reviewers. If it becomes burdensome, causes too much team strife, results in too many people attempting to game the system, causes people to be unwilling to work together as a team, or otherwise distracts from the purpose of the Theme Review Team, it will have to be discontinued. Please keep the incentive in its proper perspective. I believe it has been wildly successful up to this point. (Themes are being approved and made live at a rate at least three or four times greater than before the program was instituted.) Let’s all have fun with it, and remember that it is intended to help us fulfill our purpose as a team: to get as many great Themes as possible into the hands of end users.

As always: thank you, all, for your contributions, and for volunteering your time and effort. If there is anything that the Admins can do to improve the review process, please let us know.


Based on feedback in the comments, we have decided that the two reviewers who would be eligible this month under the new incentive rules should also get to select a Featured Theme. So, congratulations, @pagelines and @cyberchimpscode! Please post your Featured Theme selections in the comments, with a link to the Theme’s directory listing.